I saw her in the bathroom. At first, just legs. I smelled her before I saw her.
The stench of bleach. I heard the scrubbing.
It was hot, really, really hot.
No air circulation at all. So hard to breathe. Sticky. Suffocating.
6 stalls, old swinging doors with that sound when you open and close. that certain creak of old doors and then BANG! when it shuts- it SLAMS.
I heard the creaking first, then the slam behind her. I stood there. She went to the sink.
She put all her supplies in the sink. The cloth, the brush, the bleach, the little bucket.
She lifted her hand and took to the mirror.
Why was I standing there? I was in slow motion. I could not move, it was so hot.
The air was still.
She kept her gaze down. Sweat dripped from her hair line to her neck.
Not even 16.
Clothes, too tight- flesh exposed over the top of her shorts.
Upper arms soft and full coming out of the tee shirt.
Blonde hair pulled tight. Heavy eyes, lids.
I stood there. “oh dear god, send this child love”
I think I stood still to give her some space to breathe.
Like, If I moved, it would hurt her more.
If we made eye contact, I would see in her soul. IN HER SOUL.
She opens another creaky door.
She drags all her supplies into the stall. Hands full, towels under her arms.
CLICK. she locks herself in. so no one can see, so no one can feel- HER.
Quietly, I open my door. I hold it and slowly, slowly let it release, there is no slam.
Aware, I slide the lock into place. No noise.
I stand there for a minute, I can hear her breathing.
These stalls are so small.
I have a hard time moving inside, I wonder how tight it is in there, for her. Oh my gosh, so tight. so small. no room to breathe.
” Love, Love, Love, Send this child LOVE.”
It’s so hard to breathe in here.
I want to know her story.
I want to know why she looks so sad.
I want to hold her hand, brush out her hair, rub oils on her feet.
I want to spend hours listening to her soul. I want to know her pain.
I want to sit with her.
But I don’t.
With no noise, no slams, no bangs, no disruption, I wash my hands, shake them dry and walk out.